Easy to go Deaf on a US Navy Aircraft carrier

Hearing Loss in the US Navy accounts for the largest occupational hazard health expenses

150914-N-QH848-013 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 14, 2015) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Rampagers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is underway participating in a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for a future deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class A. A. Cruz/Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 14, 2015) An F/A-18C Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).  (USN photo by MC  Spec 3 Class A. A. Cruz)



According to Purdue University Noise Level Comparisons 

*Jet take-off (at 25 meters) is 150 decibels which will usually cause eardrum rupture (without ear protection).

*The noise on an aircraft carrier deck is 140 decibels

*Military jet aircraft take-off from an aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50 ft is 130 decibels.

*Oxygen torch is 121 decibels.  This causes real pain. More important to know, 120 decibels is 32 times as loud as 70 decibels according to Purdue University’s study (at the link above)

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:

“Loud noise can be very damaging to hearing. Both the level of noise and the length of time you listen to the noise can put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Noise levels are measured in decibels, or dB for short. The higher the decibel level, the louder the noise. Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss. The hearing system can be injured not only by a loud blast or explosion but also by prolonged exposure to high noise levels.”

details at their website here:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association


Men and women who have been aboard aircraft carriers and other warships in the present day and in the past have told me how deafening the noise is. In all of my research about ships in World War Two, I constantly come across references to the incredible noise of guns firing especially in battle.

As the battle intensifies, the main batteries are firing and when the range closes all guns start firing. Often times helmsmen could not hear orders.

According to the tour guide on the HMS Belfast, at full speed, the noise in the engine room exceeded 150 decibels which is enough to make you deaf after prolonged exposure.

Aircraft Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln Takes on Noise-Induced Hazards in Refit

A standard health hazard to the crew of a warship is noise. 


The following is quoted from an article from the US Navy by  Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Blake:

According to the Navy Safety Center:

In 2014 noise-induced hearing loss was the Navy’s number one occupational health expense.

The resulting consequences to the Navy from hearing loss include lost time, reduced productivity, military disability settlements and expenses for medical treatment, such as hearing aids.


Noise AbatementSailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are taking the lead in minimizing noise-induced hazards. A group of Lincoln Sailors assigned to the Deck Department have been trained to apply a special coating of paint on the bulkheads of some of the ship’s common areas. This paint is designed to reduce noise and vibration within these spaces and will be evaluated for future use.

“The Navy has taken steps forward to reduce noise levels inside the ship in preparation for the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter squadrons,” said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Dunn, assistant safety officer aboard Lincoln. “The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has been working on ways to reduce the impact from flight deck noise on decks below.”

The Lincoln’s noise abatement paint team is leading the way in helping to meet the ONR goals of more noise reduction on board ships.

“One of the ways to provide some noise reduction is to coat structural and joiner bulkheads with a special paint that has been reported to reduce noise levels by about five to seven decibels (dB),” Dunn added. “This is a significant reduction. Based on the way we measure noise, about every three dB doubles the noise level.

ONR (Office of Naval Research) will come out and will determine the effectiveness of the coatings that Lincoln Sailors have applied in a majority of the compartments just below the flight deck.”

The spray the team uses is a sound and vibration dampening paint specifically designed for marine applications.

“It’s more coating than a paint. It has properties that will dampen the vibrations and noise that transmit through metal bulkheads,” said Ens. Joel Newberry, Lincoln’s assistant first lieutenant. “The coating is being applied to living and working spaces that are directly affected by the high-level noise caused by flight deck operations.”

The ensign said he hopes this procedure will help improve living conditions on the ship for the benefit of the crew.

“This procedure helps us make those areas safer and healthier for future Lincoln Sailors,” he added, referencing the decreased noise levels.

Lincoln is currently undergoing RCOH at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va.

Lincoln is the fifth Nimitz-class ship to undergo RCOH, a major life-cycle milestone. Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet, and will continue to be a vital part of the nation’s defense.


PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov 14, 2018) F/A-18E Super Hornets, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97, conduct flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is underway and conducting operations in international waters as part of a dual carrier strike force exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jeffery L. Southerland/Released)